Monday, 12 December 2011

A Victorian Christmas, Part Three

Christmas Dinner & Festive Foods
There are a lot of foods and drinks consumed at Christmas time that are not usually seen for the rest of the year.
Mulled wine is popular, which is red wine mixed with a variety of spices and served warm. Very good for taking the chill off once you come in from the cold. The recipes vary greatly and while Cook will not tell me exactly what she uses, I can taste that there is cinnamon, orange and a touch of cloves in our mulled wine. 

Mince pies being prepared
Minced pies are popular also. At one time they were filled with minced beef but it has become popular in recent years to fill them with a sweet fruit mixture instead.
Sugar plums are also served at Christmas time which are exactly as they sound, plums coated in sugar crystals.They can also be hung from the tree using ribbon and when the candles are lit, the sugar crystals will glisten in the candle light.
Sugar Plums.
The main Christmas meal is usually eaten at lunch time, after we have attended church. The meat is usually beef or goose. Although some people are beginning to serve turkey, we usually opt for beef. Accompanying the meat are potatoes roasted in goose fat, roast parsnips and carrots, red cabbage and other similar delights
Christmas fruit pudding
For dessert we have the traditional Christmas fruit pudding served with brandy cream.
Unlike many families we do not usually have a starter or cheese board at this meal simply because we usually find two courses to be elegant sufficiency.
In the afternoon we usually play parlour games or have a reading and then in the evening we have a cold dinner consisting of cheese, pate and cold meats served with bread. For those who still have room dessert is biscuits, fruit and plum pie and the whole meal is accompanied by a glass or two of cooks excellent mulled wine to wash it all down with.
After this, well fed and content many are ready to sleep despite the early hour so we have taken to serving coffee and cream after the desert. The taste of coffee takes a little getting used to but it does perk the spirits up.
Still, we are none of us quite so lively so we usually opt for less demanding entertainment. Fanny and Margaret will often grace us with a tune or two on the piano and Bessy and Alex will then sing some of our favourite carols. Alex is not yet old enough to carry a tune well but his enjoyment and eager face, not to mention Bessy's fine singing voice, more than make up for that.
Our staff celebrate their Christmas on boxing day so they leave us a range of cold foods to consume that day. Margaret insists that they are as much a family as we are and that none of them should work so that they can celebrate together, however we have not yet been able to stop Dixon from seeing to our breakfast and getting the children up and ready. So that we are not a burden on their day off, and to stop Dixon from fussing over us, we often choose to visit mother and Mr Whitaker, the Maitlands or the Townsends in the afternoon and evening, driving ourselves into town in Margaret's little gig. 
Northern Light is available in paperback and ebook formats.  

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